Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & China Trade Information

Postby dognose » Sat May 21, 2011 6:54 am

LEE CHING

Gold & Silversmiths, Dealer in Ivory, Tortoiseshell and Mother o' Pearl Articles. - 24a, Queen's Road, Hong Kong. 30, Old China Street, Canton. Nanking Road, Shanghai.


Some detail of Lee Ching's Hong Kong branch in 1868:

Sketches in China by our own Europeon (Going Round the China Shops. II.)

"We cross the road by the Hongkong Dispensary–not a charitable institution, certainly not, but a chemists shop wherein you may get a penny worth of almost anything for a dollar, and be sure to find it good,–a few steps along the pavement under the shady Verandahs, and here is the scene of our first investigations, a Chinese Silversmiths.

Silver is the universal medium of payment throughout the Chinese Empire, and a thorough acquaintance with it, in all its forms, is indispensable even, for the smallest trader. Everywhere a lump of silver may be used as money without the slightest inconvenience, everyone roughly estimates its value at a glance and the omnipresent balance shews its weight. A person landing at Southampton with a pocket-full of teaspoons and silver forks, but otherwise without resources, would find it difficult to obtain either bed or board without a preliminary visit to a near relation, and a disposal of his treasures at an absurd discount. Not so in China. A Chinaman would pay his hotel-bill with a spoon, his tailor with an assortment of old bowls and handles, and his fare in the passage boat with a prong. Little packets of ' broken silver,' that is, dollars chopped and chopped till they are chopped to pieces, with the value written outside, become a kind of currency in a Chinese town, a currency too that has the advantage of containing change in itself, like the old silver penny that was indented in quarters which you could break off.

Chinese work in silver may therefore be expected to be good, and it does not disappoint expectation. Even skilled labour is cheap here, and the admirable pieces of workmanship which can be obtained, for amounts only very little higher than the price of the silver itself, have made wrought silver a favourite form into which to put presents. It is unfortunate that the heavy and really prohibitive duty on foreign wrought silver in England makes it a matter of great trouble and difficulty to get these presents home. It is not pleasant to take home a cup or salver, the gift and remembrancer of a few friends, with the prospect that an inexorable Custom House may demand something like what it cost here as duty, or failing payment, smash it into pieces and politely hand one the fragments. This is a ' rag of protection ' which still survives, and it may be questioned whether it is wise or just. If the Chinaman can beat Messrs. Hunt and Roskell in a fair field, with no favour, why not let him do so ? Not that it is asserted that he can. Admirable and spirited as is the Chinese carved work, and their historical bas-reliefs in silver are really strikingly good, there are many minutiae of art in which the French or English craftsman far excels them.

Like the Silversmiths in other climes, our Chinese Silversmith is highly respectable and does his business in a highly respectable shop. His shop looks supremely down upon all other China shops, through a glass window. As a rule there are no glass windows to China shops–nothing but an opening, but our Silversmiths wares are valuable, and Chinese thieves have a clever knack of hooking things on to the end of a long bamboo and disappearing with them, and Lee-ching's glass window is intended to keep temptation from such people. There is nothing in the window–no recherche articles displayed to the best advantage, with seductive price tickets loaded with superlative adjectives. If you want to see Lee-ching's wares you must go inside the shop. Inside we go. The shop may be twenty feet deep by ten or twelve feet wide, and the walls are lined with severely respectable blackwood cabinets ornamented with gilt scrolls, and having glazed doors. The effect of these cabinets, seen in the dim religious light which pervades the shop, is sombre–it would be downright melancholy but for the gilt scrolls with which the doors and cornices of the cabinets are ornamented. True the gilding is weak and pallid, and suggestive of jaundiced tea-lead, but, in the midst of so much that is sad it has a cheerful look. A counter runs down one side, and another across the end of the shop. At the end counter three or four shopmen are sitting or lolling. On our entrance they turn round to watch us, but they do not, at first, rise from their seats, or greet us, or commit themselves to any politeness whatever. One bloated aristocrat is smoking a long Chinese water-pipe, with which he make a noise like a clod drinking soup. This water-pipe is a curiosity in its way, and is worth describing. Make an ordinary English long pipe of Pewter. Bend the mouth piece end of the stem backwards until it makes an angle of sixty degrees. Have the bowl six times the usual size, and close up its mouth. Hold this pipe with the stem perpendicular, and call the uppermost side of the bowl the Top atid the lowermost side the Bottom. Make a hole through these two sides, about a quarter of an inch in diameter. Take a hollow cone with a base two and a half inches in diameter, cut off the apex where the diameter is a quarter of an inch, and solder the cone on to the bottom hole in the bowl. Take a tube about an inch long and a quarter of an inch in diameter and solder this to the hole in the top of the bowl. Now take another tube fitting inside this one, and long enough to go right through the bowl and down to within an inch of the bottom of the cone. There is your pipe. The cone is the reservoir for water, the ' bowl' is the reservoir for smoke, and the long tuba is the place in which the tobacco is burned–the true bowl of the pipe. Now prepare to smoke ! Take out the long tube and lay it down. Pour some water into the pipe until the cone is nearly full: by and bye you will be able to tell when to stop pouring, by the sound of the water as it falls in, but for the present fill the pipe too full and then blow into it, when all the superfluous water will squirt out again. Now put in the long tube and all is ready. Will you smoke a la Chimit ? If so, do not say I recommended it! You do it on your own responsibility. Take a small pinch of this finely cut, but rank, raw, palest brown tobacco, and put it into the end of the long tube. You can only put very little in at one time, for there is a grating about an eighth of an inch within the tube, to prevent you from putting in too much at once. Now light your pipe, take two, or at most three whiffs, and your tobacco is finished. Draw the tube half way up, so that the lower end shall be out of the water, and blow ; away go the ashes, drop in the tube and the pipe is ready again. Help yourself to some more tobacco! What no more ? Had quite enough ? Speak up, what do you say ? You feel very curious. Ah well, never mind ! sit down. Don't be alarmed, there is nothing the matter–no! that was not the shock of an earthquake, and the houses opposite are not being doubled up. I know how you feel. You have a sensation as though a thousand pigmies armed with pickaxes and shovels had been drawn into your stomach with each whiff, and now they are digging holes in your mucous membrane. The stomach is the seat of intellect in China, and this is how the Chinese excite their brains. You have been feeling your nose for some time, how do you find it ? ' Gone ! Broken off at the bridge.' Your spine has a tendency to wobble ? Never mind, shut your eyes, and let it wobble. How do you feel now ? " Like the noseless waves of the sea put under a glass shade to boil." Come ! Come! You are getting incoherent. Take a walk. We'll come back to Lee-ching presently.

" Chin chin ! " says Lee-ching, under the impression that ' chin chin' is English for "the top of the morning to you." When I say Lee-ching I mean one of the shopmen, any of whom will tell you that his name is Lee-ching, that that is his shop, and that he made all the things in it, whereas Lee-ching is not a man's name at all, any more than Great Western Railway Company is a man's name. It is what, in Chino-English, is called the Shop name. Chinese Shop names, as a rule, give no clue whatever to the kind of business done; they are usually something nice, some fanciful idea, some moral precept. When A Sing, A Lee and A Tsun set themselves up in business, they do not style themselves A Sing & Co, but the " House of Benevolence and Love " the " Hall of dazzling Light " the " Four points of the Compass " or some such name. Lee-ching means, Increasing profit. Fancy Harry Emanuel calling himself " A hundred per cent," or Swan and Edgar advertising their business as " The Hall of domestic Felicity " ! A Chinaman who could read English would discover a parallel to the custom of his own countrymen in the advertisements headed "Why give more" "Beautiful for ever" and "Do you bruise your Oats? " which expressions he would be sure to regard as Shop-names. I scarcely think these Shop-names should be regarded as the 'style or firm' under which the partners carry on their business. It would seem to me to be a more exact parallel to call the Shop-name the sign of tlte house. As Will Watkyns of the old time, carried on his furriers business at the sign of the Golden horse shoe, so A Sing and A Tsun of today carry on their business at the sign of " Increasing profit."

" Chin chin " says the shopman, having at length opened an eye to business. Would you like a bird-head brooch ?

I do not give you his exact words for, of course, he speaks in pidgin English, and you read all about pidgin English a year ago, in the first Volume of this Magazine. It is notable that, if you are not quick in selecting something in a China shop, the shopmen will save you the trouble by selecting something for you. Lee-ching produces a bird-head brooch. Bird-head is a degraded kind of bone, a nasty, semi-transparent, sickly yellow, greasy looking excrescence which grows on the forehead of a bird found at Hainan. It is without texture, and is tough–it is easy therefore to carve it into the elaborately intricate variations of the willow pattern which are now presented to your gaze, set in gold, in the form of brooches, pins, studs, bracelets and so forth. Seeing that you are interested, Lee-ching produces two birds heads. One a Scull with the excresence on the forehead in all its glory, and duly carved into the willow pattern. The other is like its fellow, but has feathers upon it arranged in a fantastic design: Lee-ching explains with the utmost candour that the feathers did not grow in that form, but that he put them there himself. He also kindly states that the excresence does not grow ready carved into the willow pattern.

But enough of Bird-head ! We come here to see silver ware, which is Leeching's speciality.

The silver of which the articles are made is nine tenths pure, or, as it is here described, ninety touch, that is ninety parts of silver, mixed with ten of copper. Gold for jewelery is also ninety touch, aud is composed of ninety parts of gold, five of silver and five of copper.

Chinese silver ware is embossed, chased, enamelled, but seldom or never engraved. Plane surfaces are avoided because the Chinese cannot make them smooth, such surfaces are always highly polished, but are cut up into ridges and look coarse, and barbaric.

The goods in Lee-ching shop are made to suit the taste of foreigners. There are Tea Pots, beautifully embossed and chased but, alas! their shape is the shape of the fourpenny teapots fashionable in the manufacturing districts ten years ago. There are fairy-like bouquet holders made of the finest filagree, card cases, vases, cups, flower baskets, forks and spoons, salvers, incense burners, knobs for walking sticks, and that is about all. Let us select some specimens.

A chased and Embossed Salver is unusually attractive, for the design is not all willow pattern. True the Willow pattern is round the edge or lip, embossed, wonderfully fine and minute in detail. Every little man has his own expression of countenance, the tiles on the roofs of the little temples are distinguishable one from the other, the construction of the little bridges is plain to be seen. But in the centre the design is an interlacement of the Mantan or Nanking Peony, a beautiful flower, and a favourite object of Chinese Art, of which we shall see some pictures bye and bye at the Ivory shops. Among the Peonies are some " Fung " birds or Phoenixes.

The manufacture of the salver is in this wise. First a smooth silver dinnerplate about eighteen inches in diameter is made and polished. Then the really elegant pattern in the centre is chased (it is sometimes called engraving) with little chisels hammered with a wooden mallet. While one workman is doing this chasing, another is making the figures for the Willow pattern on the edge. Every figure is made separately from a separate piece of silver, and when these are all soldered on, the salver is complete.

This filagree flower basket is made in an entirely different manner. First a silver framework is made. Then some gold leaf and mercury are mixed together until they amalgamate and form a paste. The frame is then warmed, and the amalgam rubbed in, after which the frame is made hot to drive off the mercury, and the gilding is finished. The filagree panels are of lace, marvellously fine in texture, dazzlingly intricate in design, and made of silver wire. Attached to this lace are bunches of leaves and flowers, in green and blue enamel, every bunch a separate work in itself.

A still more remarkable specimen of filagree work is a Chess Queen and Pawn. To attempt to describe the inconceivable intricacy of this piece of work would be to undertake a hopeless task. Every ornament upon the elaborate dresses of the two figures is articulated to the last and most minute detail. Fancy playing a game of chess with such pieces!

By far the most beautiful piece of work which Lee-ching has to show us is a vase or ' Cup ' about two feet high. The pedestal is a clump of plantains growing out of a piece of stony ground, and standing beneath their shade are groups of storks. The vase is graceful in shape and embossed all over with masses of foliage and fruit. The two handles are flying dragons with a horn on each of their noses, the wings, legs and feet of birds, and horrible scaly bodies. Though very fine works in themselves they mar the general contour of the whole. The lid is richly ornamented and surmounted by a well executed group of fruit.

A bit of rural stillness–nothing more; but Chinese–essentially Chinese."


Source: The China Magazine - 1868

See: http://www.925-1000.com/chinex_marks.html

The marks of Lee Ching:

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The cup subscribed for and prepared by the Chinese residents for presentation to the Hon. W.T. Mercer, lately Acting Governor and Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong, is now on exhibition at the premises of Lee Ching, Queen’s-road. It is one of the most massive and handsome pieces of silver plate ever made by the Chinese and Will be a magnificent ornament to the recipient’s drawing room. It is thoroughly Chinese in workmanship and in design and stands over two feet high, is nearly a foot and a-half broad, and is four feet in circumference round the outer edge. Standing, upon three gorgon-like massive claw-feet, the bowl is beautifully traced with carvings of Chinese scenes, executed in characteristic Chinese style, while on one side is neatly cut the following English inscription :—“ Presented to W.T. Mercer, Esquire, by Kwok Acheung, Cheung Ashau, Wo Han , Tso Tak, and other Chinese residents of Hong Kong, 1868— ‘Long shall we remember you like the genial sun; your ocean—like kindness constantly benefits us.

On the opposite side this inscription is as neatly engraved in Chinese, with the addition of a few of the donors' names not given on the English side. The contributors number, we believe, three times seven , and whether or not there be luck in odd numbers, their appreciation of Mr. Mercer’s many good qualities has taken a very graceful form. Of the value of this fine piece of silver the metal weighs 310 dollars, while altogether the cup has cost 650 dollars. One of the finest features of this presentation plate is the head-piece, which forms the lid; it is composed of three dragons, whose coils (in frosted silver) form the body of the bowl cover ; the three heads give an elegant finish to the upper part, the central and largest dragon head being the centre piece. We understand that the cup will be open to view until the departure of the next mail.


Source: The London and China Telegraph - 25th January 1869

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & China Trade Information

Postby dognose » Thu May 26, 2011 4:04 pm

LEVY HERMANOS

10, Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong branch of this French owned business was taken over by Sennet Freres in c.1910. Levy Hermanos's manager of many years standing, Albert Weill continued to manage the branch for Sennet Freres.

Albert Weill's home address was noted as: 13, Seymour Road. (Source: 1908 Jurors List, Hong Kong)

Another noted employee of the Hong Kong branch was Aaron Lemtoff Aftalian. (Source: 1908 Jurors List, Hong Kong)

Levy Hermanos opened a New York office in 1920. (The firm of Levy Hermanos, Paris, France, has established an office in this city at 88 Gold St. for the purpose of buying jewelry, clocks, cut glass, art pottery, metal and silverware. - The Jewelers' Circular, Volume 80, Issue 1)


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Levy Hermanos - Hong Kong - 1894

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Hong Kong branch details from 1894

An advertisement from the Manila branch of Levy Hermanos. This advertisement was directly aimed at visiting American sailors and was published in 'Navy News':
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Levy Hermanos - Manila - 1914

The 1902 Juror's List for Hong Kong identifies the following employees of Levy Hermanos:
Armand Levy - Manager - Address: 61, Wyndham Street
Albert Weill - Clerk - Address: Stillingflete, Peak Road


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Re: Chinese Export Silver & China Trade Information

Postby dognose » Fri May 27, 2011 11:50 am

DROZ & Co.

Watchmakers and Jewellers - 10, Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong

This firm were noted in a German listing from 1904: Image

They may possibly be identified with this firm:

Messrs. DROZ, AMSTUTZ & Co. is one of the oldest and largest houses in India engaged in the importation of high-class watches and jewellery. The business was first established in Bombay in 1884 under the trade name, West End Watch Company, and it is under this designation that it is known to the general public throughout India as the seller of watches that bear its "West End" trade mark. The enormous sale of these watches is principally due to their suitability for use under the conditions peculiar to this country. The firm is also the proprietor of the "Popular," "Whitfield," and other special styles of watches specially adapted for the Indian market.
The firm is a very old established and well-known one in Switzerland, where it has a large factory engaged in the production of all kinds and styles of watches for export to all parts of the world.
Messrs. Droz, Amstutz & Co. deal principally in the watches of their own manufacture, but they also import all classes of Swiss watches, French and American clocks, etc. They have also recently added a special department for the importation of gold and silver jewellery of English and Continental manufacture, and have a very large and varied stock of articles of this description. They are also buyers of precious stones for export to Europe.
Owing to the great development of the business, the firm opened a branch in Calcutta a few years ago, where it carries on a similar business to that conducted in its Bombay establishment, the principal part of its sales in the Bengal Presidency and Burma being conducted by the Calcutta Office.


Source: The Cyclopedia of India: Biographical, Historical, Administrative, Commercial -- Volume 1 - 1907


Link to a report from 1910 of a case held at the Bombay High Court that casts further light on the firm of Droz & Co. : http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/1958893/

An Emile Droz, Watchmaker and Jeweller, of Droz & Co.,10, Queen's Road Central, appears on the Hong Kong Jurors List of 1902

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & China Trade Information

Postby dognose » Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:56 am

H. MÃœLLER & Co.

Watch and Chronometer Makers, Jewellers, and Opticians. 16, Nanking Road, Shanghai.

As can be seen from the below details, H. Müller & Co. were in liquidation by 1892.


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H. Müller & Co. detail from 1892

H. Müller & Co. were in business from at least 1865.

H. Muller was noted as a member of The British Horological Institute in 1865.

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & China Trade Information

Postby dognose » Fri Jun 03, 2011 3:27 am

NANKING JEWELRY Co.

145, Chung Chin Road, Nanking.

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & China Trade Information

Postby dognose » Sat Jun 04, 2011 6:13 pm

KUHN & KOMOR (Fomerly known as Kuhn & Co. 79, Main Street, Yokohama. 1869 - c.1897. As Kuhn & Komor c. 1897 - c.1920)

Silversmiths - 37, Water Street, Yokohama. 2, Nanking Road, Shanghai. Queen's Road, Hong Kong.

This Hungarian owned Japanese company also had branches in Kobe, Singapore, Calcutta, Bombay, and Budapest.

In 1892 the Hong Kong branch of this business was being run by M.M. Kuhn, Siegfried Komor and Arthur Kuhn. In 1896 they were joined by Siegfried's nephew, Isidor Komor. Isidor's father, Salomon Kuhn, had officially "Magyarized" the family name in 1881. In 1897 Isidor, and his cousin, Arthur Kuhn, took over the Yokohama branch and following that, in April 1898, Isidor and his wife Frieda (Abeles) moved their family to Shanghai to open the branch there.

It would appear, that in 1919, Isidor and his family were rounded up as 'enemy' nationals and they were repatriated to Hamburg. Following the death of his wife Frieda, Isidor Komor returned to Shanghai in 1933 (the Komor's were a Jewish family) to rejoin his eldest son, Paul, who had returned to Shanghai in 1920. Paul Komor (born: Budapest 1886 - died: Santa Cruz, California 1973) is noted as being the 'Honorary Council General for Hungary' at Shanghai in the 1930's. In 1942 Paul Komor was considered as a likely British spy by Japanese Naval Intelligence and placed under house arrest for two months. He remained in Shanghai until 1948 when he immigrated with his wife to Santa Cruz, California.



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Kuhn & Co. - Yokohama - 1881



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Kuhn & Komor - Yokohama - 1899 (the two gentleman pictured in the shop doorway are likely to be Isidor Komor and his cousin, Arthur Kuhn)

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Kuhn & Komor - Yokohama - 1901


Kuhn & Komor - Yokohama - 1906
(Now showing the Shanghai branch as 29, Nanking Road)

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Kuhn & Komor - Yokohama - 1907
(Now showing the Shanghai branch as 2, Nanking Road)



KUHN and KOMOR, Dealers in Fine Art Curios, 2, Nanking Road.
Every trade has its chief representatives, who have attained their leading positions through the superiority of their goods or the extent of their operations. The pill trade has Beecham's, the soap trade Pears', thread manufacture has J. and P. Coats, aerated water machinery Barnet and Foster, and so on indefinitely. It is with the fine art curio trade in the East with which we have now to deal, and, of course, everyone acquainted therewith knows that Messrs. Kuhn and Komor are primus inter pares in it. Their business, which was established in 1865. has its headquarters at Yokohama, and its depots in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Calcutta, Bombay, and Budapest are the chief establishments of the kind in these places. The Shanghai branch, which has been established about seven years, and is under the supervision of Mr. I. Komor, one of the partners, affords an excellent illustration of the wide range and scope of the firm's operations. The premises here have been recently rebuilt, and should be visited by everyone in the town on the outlook for rare and beautiful works of art in silver, bronze, Satsuma, Cloisonne, ivory, wood, lace, silk, and other materials that would occupy the attention of the connoisseur indefinitely. Indeed, it is probable there are few European residents in Shanghai who have not. at one time or another, taken advantage of the bargains which the firm can offer here by reason of their extensive manufacturing operations, and the specialised knowledge and ability with which these operations are conducted, together with the very low rates of freightage here from the "Land of the Rising Sun." As a matter of fact, the firm sell their goods in Shanghai as cheaply as they do in Japan. The faculty of making common and familiar things tell pleasurably upon the ordinary mind by little artistic surprises and fresh interpretations of the common aspects of natural objects and scenes is specially the gift of the Japanese, and a gift as valuable as it is rare. Messrs. Kuhn and Komor's stock affords many notable illustrations of this, and were we to describe a tithe of the beautiful and interesting articles which it comprises, many pages would be necessary for the purpose. As this is, of course, impossible, we can only advise those who are desirous of obtaining genuine and superior goods to pay the establishment a visit. Once inside, it is a foregone conclusion that more extensive purchases will be made than were intended on first entering, for the stock is irresistible in its appeals to all lovers of beauty, novelty, and utility in art goods.


Source: Seaports of the Far East, Historical and Descriptive, Commercial and Industrial Facts, Figures,& Resources - A Macmillan - 1907


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Details of the Hong Kong branch under their earlier name of Kuhn & Co. from 1892

Kuhn & Komor were noted as the favoured suppliers of diplomatic presentation silver by the Japanese Government.



By 1926 Kuhn & Komor had been succeeded by Toyo Murakami

The 1902 Juror's List for Hong Kong identifies the following employees of Kuhn & Komor:
Arthur Kuhn - Curio Dealer - Address: Robinson Road
Jose Maria do Rosario Xavier - Clerk - Address: 21, Queen's Road


Some examples of the marks of Kuhn & Komor:

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An image of Isidor Komor can be seen at: http://digitalassets.ushmm.org/photoarc ... (HUNGARIAN)


Kuhn & Komor, a prominent jewelry firm established at Yokohama, are the designers of a large Japanese bronze statue which' has just been added to Stanford University. The figure stands 10 feet high and weighs over 2.000 pounds. It is surmounted by a great eagle, whose outstretched wings measure eight feet from tip to tip. Around the base of the figure, which is of roughened bronze, shaped to represent a huge moss covered stone and circled with ivy is a group of scampering monkeys, in all sorts of grotesque attitudes and postures. This piece of bronze work was much admired by Admiral Dewey during his brief stay at Yokohama.

Source: The Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review - 3rd September 1902

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & China Trade Information

Postby dognose » Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:53 pm

ARTHUR & BOND

Silversmiths & Dealers in Japanese Fine Art - 38, Water Street, Yokohama. 90, Concession, Kobe. 52, St. Mary Axe, London.

The English owned, Japanese based company Arthur & Bond were important retailers and manufacturers in late 19th/early 20th century Japan. Catering mainly for tourists and ex-pats, they were well known for their high quality silverware that was usually marked with a simple 'Arthur & Bond', 'Yokohama' and 'Sterling'.

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Arthur & Bond - Yokohama - 1893

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Arthur & Bond - Yokohama - 1899

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Arthur & Bond - Yokohama - 1899

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Arthur & Bond - Yokohama - 1901

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Arthur & Bond - Yokohama - 1901

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Arthur & Bond - Yokohama - 1907


Arthur & Bond's most famous commission, without a doubt, has to be the Liscum Bowl. This massive piece of silver, weighing 90lbs, 40" across, 24" high and capable of holding 14 gallons, was made in 1902 and presented to the American Ninth Infantry in 1903 for their role in the quelling of the Boxer Rebellion.

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Jewelers' Circular - 27th October 1920

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Jewelers' Circular - 27th October 1920



LISCUM BOWL

This bowl was made to the order of the Ninth Infantry Officers' Mess, by Arthur & Bond, of Yokohama, Japan, and was completed November 2, 1902, and placed in their show-window that evening for display on the Mikado's birthday, November 3rd.

The bowl, ladle and separate cups for each officer, makes the most beautiful set known to exist, and is valued at $15,000.00.

The first ladle made was stolen from the window of Arthur & Bond and had to be replaced. However, the thief was caught and still had in his possession a part of the silver of the ladle handle, he having cut the ladle into small pieces, and spent, as money, the greater portion.

He was duly convicted and sent to prison for seven years.

The following item which appeared in a Yokohama paper will prove of interest:

A MAGNIFICENT BOWL Splendid Piece Of Silverware Made By Messrs. Arthur And Bond

Residents of and visitors to Japan will be repaid by a visit to the show-rooms of Messrs. Arthur & Bond, if only to view the latest piece of Japanese silverware which, as it lies on a ruby-plush ground, in one of the windows, is attracting the admiration of all passers-by. The piece is a large silver Dragon Bowl, tray and ladle, which the firm has had made by Japanese artists and craftsmen, at the order of the Ninth Infantry Regiment, U. S. Army. These Japanese artificers took seven months to complete this Gargantuan punch-bowl, which would certainly hold enough liquid for the ordinary regimental celebration, and looks as big as the average font. The chasing and repousse- work in intertwined dragons, the same forming the four handles, on the outside of the big bowl (the inside is smooth, burnished silver), on the immense, heavy ladle (holding nearly a pint) and on the appropriate tray afford an excellent example of the best work of this kind in Japan. We are given the following particulars of this chef dce'nvre:

Complete weight, 12,098 momme (one momme = one-sixteenth of an ounce, avoirdupois).

Measurements: Diameter, 2 feet, 4 inches; from handle to handle, 3 feet, 3 inches; height from base to top of bowl, 1 foot, 9 inches; height from base to top of dragon handle, 2 feet, 1 inch.

Tray: Diameter of tray, 2 feet, 4 1/4 inches; from handle to handle, 2 feet 6 inches.

Ladle: Length, 2 feet, 1 1/2 inches.

Weight: Punch bowl, 9, 180 momme; tray, 3, 572 momme; ladle, 346 momme.

Messrs. Arthur & Bond think this is the largest single piece of silverware ever made in Japan, and it is assuredly something of which they, the artist-workmen and the recipient regiment should be proud.


Source: History of the Ninth U.S. Infantry, 1799-1909 - Fred Radford Brown - 1909



For more details of the Liscum Bowl see: http://www.creativemetalworks.com/p332.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


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One of the silver marks used by Arthur & Bond, this one includes their Trade Mark.


PRESENTATION TO MR. A. L. ROBINSON.
Shortly after noon on Friday there was a gathering of members of the Yokohama Amateur Rowing Club at the Boat House for the purpose of presenting to the Captain, Mr. A. L. Robinson, a large and handsome silver bowl, subscribed for by members of the Club on the occasion of Mr Robinson's marriage. The presentation was made by Mr. F. J. Hall, President of the Club, who spoke of the long and deep interest taken by Mr. Robinson in the Rowing Club. When he (the President) came to Yokohama nineteen years ago Mr. Robinson was Secretary to the Rowing Club, and had held that position for some years. Mr. Robinson left Yokohama, but had returned and had been their popular captain for the last two years. Mr. Robinson replied briefly, expressing his warm thanks for the kindly and valuable gift made to him. He spoke of his enthusiasm in rowing matters, and remarked that he was first connected with the Club in 1883. The work he had done had ever been a labour of love and in his connection with rowing he had spent many of the happiest hours of his life. After the presentation the health of, the recipient was heartily drunk, and he responded by proposing the toast of the Y.A.R.C.'
The bowl, which was supplied by Messrs. Arthur and Bond, is of handsome silver, with iris pattern, and is mounted on a carved wood stand, bearing a silver plate engraved as follows: –" Presented to A. L. Robinson, Esq., by Members of the Y.A.R.C. 28 November, 1908."


Source: The Japan Daily Mail - 5th December 1908

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:31 am

K. UYEDA

Silversmiths and Jewellers - Imperial Hotel Annexe and opposite the Imperial Hotel,Tokyo

Founded in 1884, K. Uyeda (Kichigoro Uyeda) are likely to be the oldest established Japanese silversmiths still in business.

Their silverware is usually marked with a simple 'K. Uyeda - 950 S - Sterling'

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:50 am

SAMURAI SHOKAI

Silversmiths and Japanese Art Dealers - 20, Itchome, Honcho, Yokohama.

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Samurai Shokai - Yokohama - 1899

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Samurai Shokai - Yokohama - 1907

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Samurai Shokai - Yokohama - 1919

Samurai Shokai (the store of the knight warrior) was the business of Yozo Nomura (born 1870 - died 1965) that was established in 1894. From what started as a small curio shop, Nomura turned this business into one of Japan's leading fine art suppliers.

Disaster struck Yokohama in 1923 in the form of the Great Kanto Earthquake, although Yozo Nomura and his family were uninjured they were forced to flee Yokohama and upon their return found a scene of utter devastation, their premises had burnt to the ground and even the molten precious metals in the ashes had been looted. Crestfallen, but not broken, Nomura set about the reconstruction of his business and also rebuilt Yokohama's Grand Hotel, later to become the temporary headquarters of General McArthur following the end of hostilities in August 1945. Numura greeted McArthur on the steps of the New Grand Hotel, and dispite McArthur assuming Numura was the hotel's manager, a mistake that Numura immediately corrected McArthur with, the two men became friends.

Yozo Nomura had a reputation as a kind man, a Buddhist by religion, he also founded The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Japan. His Samurai Shokai company made and supplied silverware to customers worldwide, not only from his Yokohama shop, but by his successful mail order business.

Samurai Shokai silverware is usually marked with a simple 'Samurai Shokai - Yokohama - Sterling' or marked with Japanese charactors.


Two examples of the mark of Yozo Nomura - top - 野村造 ("Nomura-made"), above the 'jungin' (pure silver) mark:

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:43 pm

SINGLETON, BENDA & CO.

Japanese and Oriental Merchants, Exporters from Japan - 96, Yamashita-Cho, Yokohama. 56, Harima-Cho, Kobe. 27, London Wall, London EC.

Singleton, Benda & Co. were established in 1892. They were direct importers into the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand of Japanese silverware and jewellery. Under the ownership of Montague Levy, they entered marks at the London Assay Office in 1900. The Chairman in 1901 was noted as Charles Williamson Milne (born: 30th March 1863).

A noted employee of Singleton, Benda & Co., from 1898 until 1900, was Elly Isaac Miller, who was also to enter marks on his own account at the London Assay Office in 1900.

This firm suffered great losses caused by the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923.

Just to confuse the issue, I have noted a T.A. Singleton and a Charles Benda working for the firm of M. Levy & Co. of Yokohama in 1894.

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Mon Jun 13, 2011 1:34 pm

MIYAMOTO SHOKO

Goldsmiths, Silversmiths, & Manufacturing Jewellers - 2 Yazaemoncho, Kyobashi-ku, Ginza, Tokyo.


Established 1880 and believed to still be in business today.


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Miyamoto Shoko - Tokyo - 1901


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Miyamoto Shoko - Tokyo - 1914


Miyamoto Shoko, 2 Yazaemoncho, Kyobashi-ku, between Ginza and the canal N. of it. Goldsmiths. Manufacturing jewelers; hand-made silverware (a specialty) in quaint and unique designs (extensive display of tea-sets, punch-bowls, spoons and miscellaneous articles). The tea-sets with Chinese jade fitments are unusually beautiful. Jade jewelry; bronzes; ivories, etc.

Source: Terry's Japanese Empire - Houghton Mifflin Company - 1914


The Miya Moto Shoko stores is one of the representative establishments of the Japanese empire. It is a marvelous exhibit continually of the possibilities in curios, silks, drapes, rugs, ivories woods and articles of virtu, carvings and a multitude of other things. The Miya Moto Shoko is purveyor to His Imperial Majesty's household by permit, and this means that everything that is wonderful may be seen there. Tourists who go to Tokyo and leave without seeing this store will have left without seeing one of the magnificent wonders of the modern world. The place should be included in every tourist's tablets in order to refresh his memory.

Source: Overland Monthly and the Out West Magazine - 1910

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The mark of Miyamoto Shoko

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:18 am

KANAYA GOROSABURO

Goldsmith, Silversmith, and Artist in Bronze. - Muromachi Street, Kyoto. Oike Agaru, Kyoto. Oike Machi, Kyoto.


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Kanaya Gorosaburo - Kyoto - 1881

This is Kanaya Gorosaburo (born: 1836, died: 1890), he was the 9th generation to bear the name of this famous family of Japanese artists who had worked in Kyoto since 1625.

Kanaya Gorosaburo's work was exhibited at the World's Fair at Vienna in 1873, Philadelphia in 1876 and Paris in 1878.

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:56 am

BISANSHA

Silversmiths - 33, Honcho Nichome, Yokohama.

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Bisansha - Yokohama - 1899

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Bisansha - Yokohama - 1907

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:30 am

DOUGLAS LAPRAIK & Co.

Jeweller and Watchmaker - Hong Kong

Douglas Lapraik was born in London on the 7th October 1818, the son of an ex-pat Scotsman, George Rankine Lapraik. Douglas Lapraik was noted as being baptised in The Scotch Church at London Wall on the 2nd March 1819. At the age of 21 in 1839 he left England to find his fortune in the colonies. Whilst in Macao he met the watchmaker Leonard Just and became apprenticed to him. Just, who had been working in the orient for many years was the ideal tutor for the keen Lapraik and Just saw in his new apprentice a future manager at least. In 1842 Hong Kong became Britain's newest colony, and it is likely that Just sent Lapraik from Macao to the new colony to establish a business there. Things appear to have gone very well in Hong Kong and by 1846 Just had moved to Hong Kong and was known to have two shops, one in D’Aguilar Street and one in Queen’s Road.

Sometime around this period Douglas Lapraik branched out on his own, probably taking another of Just's apprentices with him, one George Falconer. It is likely that Falconer ran the jewellery and watchmaking business for his new employer, as Lapraik was embarking on one business enterprise after another with great success and was very soon one of the great taipans of Hong Kong.

Much has been written regarding the successful business career of Douglas Lapraik and there is no need to repeat it here as his business interests moved away from the jewellery trade, except to say that he retired, perhaps due to ill health, and returned to England in 1866 and died there in 1869.

Douglas Lapraik passed his jewellery and watchmaking business onto George Falconer, the details of Falconer & Co. can be found in an earlier post.


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Detail from 'The Hong Kong Directory - 1859 (This directory also details the residences of Lapraik, Falconer and Bond as D'Aguilar Street, this may have been, perhaps, the location of Douglas Lapraik's business).



1864 Mr. Douglas Lapraik, who had been for many years a resident in this colony, and had won an amount of esteem and respect from his fellow colonists that is awarded to few, left for Europe by the mail of the 1st April. Previous to his departure an influential meeting was held at the Club at which it was decided to give him a public dinner "as a testimonial of the high respect and esteem in which he was held by all classes of the community." Mr Lapraik, however, declined the honor, much to the regret of the promoters and subscribers.

Source: The Treaty Ports of China and Japan. - William Frederick Mayers and Charles King - 1867

1864 One of the most daring and best planned robberies which had taken place for some time past was discovered on the morning of the 16th May. At 3 o'clock AM, a light was observed in the Jewellery department of the house of Douglas Lapraik, Esq., by the Chinese watchman, who at once gave the alarm. The inmates were quickly roused, when a hole in the floor was found almost wide enough for the entrance of an ordinary sized man, and through which a boy could pass with ease. On examination it was ascertained that the burglars had dug a large hole about two feet underground, starting from the sidedrain, and going under the foundation of the building. In this excavation, house-breaking implements of various descriptions, with small Chinese lanterns, Chinese clothing, and rope were discovered. A document was also found which proved the careful and professional premeditation of the burglars; it was no less than a division of the spoil, which was to have been carried off, between the gang of fifteen whose names were appended to the paper. There can be no doubt, that this was the work of a gang thoroughly organised; and the digging, we might almost say quarrying, must have been the work of at least a fortnight . One remarkable fact connected with it was, that the Police had made a special inspection of the drains about three weeks ago, when the one in question was found to be quite secure. The value of the property carried off amounted to between seven and eight hundred dollars; but when we consider the large amount of moveable valuables on the premises, it is certainly very fortunate that they did not succeed in taking away a quantity of much greater value.

Source: The Treaty Ports of China and Japan. - William Frederick Mayers and Charles King - 1867


HONG KONG

The following on the “ Celestial Cup,".‘ is from the Evening Mail :–
We have much pleasure in drawing attention to a specimen of native silversmiths‘ work now on view at Mr. D. Lapraik’s. Our readers are aware that, a short time ago, many old members and friends of the London Scottish Volunteers subscribed for a challenge cup to be competed for by members of that corps and to be designated “The Celestial Cup.” In order to give the proposed prize an appearance suited to the place of its origin, the ornamentation and workmanship are entirely Chinese, the outline and conformation of the cup being after the present English manner. The “Celestial Cup ” is two feet high from the bottom of the pedicle to the apex of the lid. The body of the vessel is well proportioned as regards breadth and depth, and has a rich, massive appearance, rendered still more effective by the addition of two dragon handles. The lid is a very fine piece of workmanship, displaying good castings of several dragons in that state of confused animation which pervades all Chinese designs, and seems to mark their furthest reach of fancy in metallic modelling as in alto relief. The rampant attitudes of the intermingled reptiles are managed so as to bring the general outline of the lid to a proper apex,while about the base native vegetation, in which the lotus flower is most prominent, has been appropriately introduced. The body of the vase has, for its external decorations, the usual quaint looking fighting figures in relief, the perspective being that of the willow-pattern school displayed in perfection. The military tactics which the Chinese artist thus hands down to posterity will doubtless serve to remind the members of the London Scottish Corps of the vast strides that have been made in warfare since the period illustrated on the “Celestial Cup,”–-the same era of which traces are preserved in the fights at Donnybrook Fair. Though the larger portion of the space has been devoted to military evolutions, as befits the purpose for which the prize is presented, there are other representations of Chinese life and manners given in the same quaint style. The handles are very finely wrought, and show that in delineating the lizard tribe the Chinese decidedly excel. The bowl is supported by a cluster of bamboos, the canes and leaves being well executed, and gracefully disposed to answer their purpose in the general design. They form, we think, the most attractive feature of the work, and, as well as the lid and handles, the most elaborately wrought. The bamboo, we need scarcely mention, is everything with the Chinese,––food, clothing, furniture, and utensils of labour. It should never be absent in any artistic design intended to wear a national aspect, and there are few works of art in the precious metals where it may not, as in the present case, be most suitably introduced.
Having thus paid a proper tribute to the cunning workmanship of the Chinese craftsman, it only remains for us to mention that the “ Celestial Cup” will be sent to England and forwarded to Lord Elcho by the next out-going mail. The terms of competition have been left to his Lordship, but it is understood that it can only become the property of the competitor who wins it for two consecutive years.
This is, we suppose, the first prize ever sent to England by any colony; and the “China Cup,” lately subscribed for, or begun to be subscribed for at Shanghai and in Hong Kong, will in all likelihood, be the second. The latter, we doubt not, will be equally welcomed by our crack shots at home, and both will do honour to the Volunteer spirit which marks Englishmen, even in the most distant colonies.
We must not omit to notice the inscription, with the wreath encircling it. The former, which is neatly engraved, indicates the origin and destination of the gift; the latter, the nationality of the givers and receivers, it being formed of such flowers as the heather, the “ forget-me-not," and the wild rose, with the thistle as a central gum ; over the latter paws the rampant Scottish lion, and a scroll is legible with the motto upon it of “ Wha daur meddle wi’ me !” which is a good Doric rendering of the old legend, “ Nemo me impune laoessit.”
The value of the “ Celestial Cup ” is about five hundred dollars, and the number of subscribers amounts to sixty. After being on view at Mr. D. Lapraik's during to-morrow, it will, we believe, be exposed at the club, previously to being packed up for transmission by the P. and O. Company.


Source: The London and China Telegraph - 4th May 1865


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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Sat Jun 18, 2011 2:08 pm

S. KOMAI

Workers in Damascene - Shinmonzen, Kyoto.

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S. Komai - Kyoto - 1914

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:05 pm

JOMI EISUKE

Tera Machi, near Shijo, Kyoto

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E. Jomi - Kyoto - 1899

Jomi Eisuke was a former apprentice of Kanaya Gorosaburo.

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Fri Jun 24, 2011 5:40 pm

T. KAWASAKIYA

Tortoise Shell Ware Manufacturer - 55, Moto Kago Machi, Nagasaki.

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T. Kawasakiya - Nagasaki - 1899

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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:50 pm

YASUYUKI NAMIKAWA

Cloisonne wares - Sanjo Dori, Shirakawa Bashi, Kita Suji, Horike Machi, Kyoto.

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Yasuyuki Namikawa - 1903


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Yasuyuki Namikawa - Kyoto - 1881


Y. Namikawa has long held undisputed supremacy as a maker of fine cloisonne; and we saw in his workroom different vases in the various processes from the one in which the metal ribbon is cut, shaped, and cemented over the minute design traced on the vase, to the final polishing up. Namikawa's production is a small one, but he boasts that each article is turned out perfect in every detail, and without a flaw. He used to boast that his work required no trademark or sign to distinguish it; but other makers have run him so close in excellence of work that he has been obliged to place a mark on the output of his workrooms. Although the cloisonne enamel is on metal, it is as easily chipped as porcelain, and it also requires careful handling to avoid tarnishing the metal cloison. The cloison is made on gold, silver, or copper articles with " wire," or rather tape, of one of these metals, almost as thin as paper, and about one-sixteenth of an inch wide, cut of the required lengths, shaped with pincers, and cemented on edge to fit the tiny designs of flowers, birds, and other objects sketched on the vase or other article treated. When the interstices are filled with the various enamel pastes, and these have been burnt in the kilns and polished, the finished product turned out to-day by the best makers in Japan will compare favourably with that of any other country or time. Since 1860, when the imitation of Chinese models was abandoned, and designs from the best Japanese artists began to be copied in cloisonne, the manufacture has steadily increased in excellence, until it is now superior to any in the world. For the Chicago Exhibition of 1893 chased silver vases decorated with cloisonne and covered with a translucent enamel in beautifully-shaded, iridescent colours were first made, and for the Paris Exhibition of 1900 wireless cloisonne was produced by withdrawing the metal tapes after the cloisons are filled in with the enamels, and allowing the latter to coalesce. The result obtained is a shaded, or blended, instead of a well-defined, outline to the designs.

Source: Around the World through Japan - Walter Del Mar - 1903


The art of making cloisonné enamel, whilst not modern, has yet been brought by a few of its present-day exponents in Kyoto to a state of perfection never hitherto attained in Japan or any other land. In a short paragraph in Things Japanese Professor B. H. Chamberlain says: "The art first became known in Japan some three hundred years ago, but it has only been brought to perfection within the last quarter of a century. Mr. Namikawa, the great cloisonné maker of Kyoto, will show visitors specimens that look almost antediluvian in roughness and simplicity, but date back no farther than 1873."

It was not, however, to Namikawa's that I first went. In other towns I had seen the process, and I had also visited several other makers in Kyoto before the above paragraph came before my eyes. When I read it I decided immediately to visit the famous artist, and when my call was over I was glad I had seen the other places first, as I was thus better able to appreciate the excellence of the workmanship which has placed the Namikawa product in a class which few of his contemporaries ever reach.

As I was whirled rapidly along in a rikisha, passing through street after street of two-storied houses with tiled roofs, each almost a counterpart of its neighbours, there was little outward show to indicate the treasures of art which might be concealed behind those wooden walls and paper windows. Indeed, the only visible clues to what investigation would reveal were often but simple boards on which were painted such names as "Kömai," "Kuröda," "Jömi," etc. To the initiated, however, these names mean much, for they are, as already shown, names to conjure with in the world of art–the patronymics of some of the greatest artist-craftsmen the century has produced.

My sturdy kurumaya, having received his instructions, hesitated before none of these, but trotted rapidly on until he finally turned into a quiet side-lane in the Awata district, and with a jerk pulled up and dropped the shafts before a private house. I thought there must be some mistake, but with a good-natured smile that covered his whole face, as he wiped the great beads of perspiration from his forehead and from amongst his short bristly hair, he pointed to a tiny placard, but a few inches long, by the entrance gate, bearing the simple inscription: "Y. Namikawa–Cloisonné."

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The door was immediately opened, and I was greeted with a "Good morning" by a young man who conducted me past a pretty glimpse of garden into a room typically Japanese, except that it was furnished with a large cabinet and a graceful Chinese blackwood table.

Here I met Mr. Namikawa, a man of quiet speech and courteous manner, whose refined classical features betrayed the artist. He spoke no English, but relied entirely on the services of his interpreter, who invited me to partake of the tea which had been prepared immediately upon my entering the house.

There are still to be found in Kyoto, and elsewhere in Japan, a few of the old-time artist-craftsmen who cannot reconcile themselves to modern business methods, and with them the purchase of a small objet d'art may take an entire afternoon. The motive of the visit, although perfectly apparent from the outset, must be broached–or at least would be so by a Japanese–in the most delicate manner possible; and only after much discussion, and careful expression and veiling of opinion, could a price be finally agreed upon at which the coveted possession would change hands.

There, however, is none of this beating about the bush with Namikawa. He knows what you have come for, and he also knows that the average foreign customer may likely enough have planned to visit half a dozen other–I was about to write "shops," but just checked myself in time–artists' houses the same afternoon.

Namikawa is at the same time an artist and a man of business; therefore, whilst I sipped the tea, he set about the selection of sundry little boxes from a cabinet near by. When he had chosen about a dozen, he placed them upon the table before me and forthwith proceeded to open one. He produced therefrom a little bundle done up in yellow cheese-cloth. Removing this, there was yet more cheese-cloth, and after that a piece of silk. Unwrapping the silk, he disclosed to view a piece of cloisonné of such design and colouring that the finest I had hitherto seen seemed but crude in comparison. In turn he opened the other boxes, and from each brought forth a masterpiece.

There were tiny vases of which the groundwork was of Crown Derby yellow; others in their colouring suggested Royal Worcester, only the designs were essentially Japanese. There were little jars and caskets of which the prevailing tints were delicate cornflower and peacock blues. There were groundworks of red and olive green, and of ultramarine and deep purple. One and all were decorated with designs more beautiful than any I had previously seen, and each was mounted on its own tiny stand of carved blackwood, as dainty in its way as the piece itself.

In Japan it is not the custom to display the finest work at first. The Japanese know that to show a fine work of art to the uninitiated is often a thankless task–as indeed Kuröda had told me; therefore only where genuine interest is shown are the most cherished pieces brought forth. Besides, too, there is nothing the Japanese likes better than to have something still "up his sleeve," and in this he shows a weakness, that is, after all, but human. The visitor's knowledge and the quality of his interest are quickly gauged by these Kyoto artists. There is no deceiving them. Pretence of knowledge is of no avail. The real connoisseur reveals himself in every glance, just as the pretender betrays himself by every word. He who is anxious to learn is gladly welcomed, however, even though he be not a buyer.

Though Namikawa produced other and larger pieces, it was not until one of my further visits, many months later, that I saw the very climax of his skill–a pair of vases decorated with an old-time feudal procession, an order from the Emperor which had taken his foremost artist over a year to complete.

Namikawa's output is so small that the demand for it from visiting connoisseurs and collectors is sometimes more than equal to the supply. There is no catering for the trade. That is left to those who follow in his footsteps–who seek to imitate his methods and effects. As the pieces stood on the table they ranged in price from five to fifty pounds, a large piece of the latter value being about fifteen inches high, and decorated, on a deep blue ground, with a design of white and purple drooping wistarias.

The larger pieces were in no way inferior to the smaller ones, though the making of a perfect piece of large size is well-nigh an impossibility, as some tiny speck or minute flaw is almost certain to appear; yet careful examination showed that even in the largest there was such perfection as I had not seen before.

It seemed almost sacrilege to remove any of the pieces from the care of their creator and from the environment which became them so well; but I felt that henceforth life would be worth living only in the companionship of a modest but exquisite little vase, of which forthwith I became the proud possessor.

Whilst I was inspecting each vase, and casket, and urn in turn, Namikawa slid open one of the wood-and-paper shoji to admit more air, for the day was warm. Involuntarily glancing up I beheld a most charming scene–the essence of all that is aesthetic, restful, and refined in a Japanese garden. There was a little lake with rustic bridges, and miniature islands clad with dwarf pine-trees of that rugged, crawling kind that one sees only in Japan; and out over the water, a few inches from the surface, they stretched their gnarled and tortured limbs towards others of their kind which strove from the opposite shore to meet them.

The verandah projected over the lake, and as my host stepped on to it, from every part of the pond great carp, black, spotted, and gold, lashed the water to foam as they rushed literally to their master's feet. He cast a handful of biscuits to them, and a frantic struggle ensued as the fish crowded to the surface noisily gobbling up the tit-bits. Handing some of the biscuits to me, he invited me to feed them from my hand. Lying down on the porch I could just reach the water, and I found them so tame that they fearlessly took pieces from my fingers, and even permitted me to stroke them on the back.

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Under the shelter of a dwarf pine, on a tiny island in front, a little tortoise was gazing steadily at us. I threw a piece of biscuit to it, but it did not move. I tossed another piece but it never stirred. Namikawa, laughing, remarked, "It cannot eat. It is bronze."

Each shrub, each bridge, each stone lantern, and even each stone itself, was so placed in the garden as to help the composition of the picture. Here was surely the highest exposition of the landscape gardener's skill, for although the entire enclosure could not have exceeded thirty yards in length, and half as much in width, yet so clever was the arrangement of the water and the trees as to suggest a large area unseen, and even the trees themselves were so arranged and controlled in growth as to make the apparent size of the garden much greater than the real.

Namikawa then invited me to inspect his workshop. Conducting me out into the garden and round the miniature lake, he led me to another building, which was open to the light on two sides, and furnished with running white curtains to soften and diffuse, if necessary, the strong glare of the sun. This was the workshop.

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I had not expected to see a large one, for in Japan such are seldom found, and many of the greatest masterpieces have been created in a humble home, where a lone individual toiled week after week, month after month, and in many cases year after year, on a single piece, until at length it stood complete –a master's work of art.

I had heard of many such cases, and I was not surprised, therefore, to find Namikawa's entire staff in one room.

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Some weeks before, I had seen, in Yokohama, a cloisonné factory where the artisans worked on dirty wooden floors, designing and enamelling beautiful floral vases. In other rooms figures, naked save for a loin-cloth, scrubbed, and ground, and polished huge urns, in some cases as big as the scrubbing figures themselves; and by the side of kilns, which gleamed dull red, old and practised men stood and watched, the sweat dripping from their half-nude bodies.

And in Kyoto I had visited the Takatani factory, where an enormous demand from Europe and America for cheap ware is catered for–the work being done by young girls and children, who laid the enamel paste on with spoons, each completing many pieces in a day.

Those were "factories" almost in the European sense, where the love of the lone individual of the old days, who wanted little and lived simply, content with the beauty created by his own hands–his craft his life and joy as well as occupation–had degenerated into the equivalent of the modern industrialism of the West, in the race for wealth which is sounding the death-knell of much that is best in Japanese art.

But here were no such scenes.

Instead, I saw a spotless studio, twenty feet in length, the floor covered with padded mats, on which, bending over tiny tables, were ten artists, so intent on their occupation that our intrusion caused but a momentary glance. Close by them were two figures, rubbing and polishing. This was Namikawa's entire staff.

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In this room could be seen the whole process by which the enamelled ware, called "cloisonné," was produced–except the firing. Each artist was at work on some delicate little vase or dainty casket, which was surely, yet almost imperceptibly, assuming beautiful outlines and colouring on its shape. At one table a bronze vase was receiving its decorative design, not from a copy, but fresh from the brain of the artist, who sketched it with a brush and Chinese ink. At another table an artist was cutting small particles of gold wire, flattened into ribbon a sixteenth of an inch in width. After carefully bending and twisting the particles to the shape of the minute portion of the design they were to cover, he then fastened them in place with a touch of liquid cement. At yet another table the wiring of a design had just been finished–the silver vase which formed the base being beautifully filigreed in relief with gold ribbon. Namikawa's fame rests as much on the lustre and purity of his monochrome backgrounds as on the decoration of his ware; this gold enrichment, therefore, covered but a portion of the surface. It was simply a spray or two of cherryblossoms, among which some tiny birds were playing. That was all; yet even in this state, as it stood ready for the insertion of the enamels, it was a thing of beauty, for every feather in the diminutive wings and breasts was worked, and every petal, calyx, stamen, and pistil of every blossom was carefully outlined in gold, forming, for the reception of the coloured paste, a network of minute cells, or cloisons, from which the art derives its name.

At other tables the enamel was being applied. The paste, with which the tiny cells are filled, is composed of mineral powders of various colours, which produce the desired tints when mixed with a flux that fuses them in the furnace into vitrified enamel.

In the finest cloisonné the cells are only partially filled at first. The piece is then fired. Then more paste is applied, and it is fired again. Perhaps it may be seven times treated thus before the final application of the paste, and this last coating is the most important. On it very largely depends not only the effect of the other coats, but also the appearance of the surface. It determines whether the surface shall be of flawless lustre, or pitted with minute holes.

After this last filling and firing the vase presents a very rough appearance, for the final fusion has run the enamels together, as the cells were filled higher than the brim. There is little in its appearance at the present stage to indicate the beauty and brilliancy lying below. It is like a rare stone before it emerges from the hands of the lapidary.

The vase must now be ground with pumice-stone and water for many days, sometimes for weeks, to reduce the uneven face to the same thickness all over. This is all done by hand, and calls for great skill and watchfulness, for were it ground thinner in one place than another the light would not be evenly reflected by the brilliant surface, and all the preceding work would be ruined. No lathes are used for the work; gentle rubbing by hand is the only process employed. This grinding is accomplished so slowly that an hour's work scarcely leaves any perceptible impression. As the surface day by day becomes finer, pumice of softer and smoother quality is chosen, and the final pieces used are soft as silk. After the pumice, there follows more rubbing with smooth-faced stone and horn, and finally with oxide of iron and rouge, which polishes the surface to the lustre of a lens.

Namikawa then makes his final inspection of the vase, though every day of its growth it has been under his watchful eye, and if pronounced perfect and worthy of bearing his name, it passes on to the silversmith for the addition of its metal rim round the base and lip, and to have the engraved nameplate attached to the base. On its return it is wrapped in silk and yellow cheese-cloth, and consigned to the cabinet in his house–not to remain there long, however, for it soon passes into the hands of some travelling connoisseur.

One end of the room was shelved for the reception of the bronze and silver vases that are used as foundation for the enamel-work, and for some hundreds of bottles filled with mineral powders of every shade and colour. These were the materials for the enamel. The intimate knowledge of these powders can only be obtained by years of experiment and study, for the colours change completely when in a state of fusion. Not only must the artist know the shade of colour he desires, but how ultimately to obtain that shade by using a powder of a totally different hue.

After inspecting the workshop I was shown the firingroom, and here, too, everything was clean and neat. Namikawa himself attends to the firing–perhaps the most important part of the whole process, for on it depends the success or failure of all the work preceding it. Any error in the degree of heat might ruin all. On the fusing depend not only the proper setting and colour of the enamel, but also the richness of lustre and freedom from air-holes in its surface.

I learnt that some colours present much greater difficulties than others to fuse successfully, and that large monochrome surfaces require more skill than small cloisons. I was shown one piece, of which the design was a maple-tree in autumn tints on a yellow ground; the grading of the colour and the veining on the leaves were exquisite, and had taken many days of care to prepare for the final firing and polishing. Apparently it would be well worthy of a place in the cabinet; but as the pumice ground the surface down, and the details became clearer day by day, unsightly marks began to appear, and it had emerged from the kiln, not beautified, but marred and ruined. Thus it is that the finest specimens of cloisonné are so dear. The purchaser of the ultimate perfect piece must needs pay also for those ruined in the endeavour to produce it.

Nanukawa's artists do not work by set hours, but only when the inspiration and desire for work is upon them. I have seldom, however, during my dozen or so visits, found a vacant place at the tables in the workroom. He has a namesake in Tokyo–a cloisonné-maker no less famous than himself, but no relation. The Tokyo Namikawa makes the decorations bestowed by Imperial favour, of which the Order of the Rising Sun is the most perfect specimen of enamel-work in the world, and–I have it on the authority of a well-known Piccadilly jeweller–quite impossible to duplicate in England.

But the Tokyo Namikawa withdraws the wiring from his pieces, thus producing an impressionist effect, for the enamels run together slightly in the fusing. Beautiful as the results obtained are, they have more the appearance of ceramic work, and should be regarded as an entirely separate art–as indeed the inventor justly claims for them.


Source: In Lotus-Land Japan - Herbert George Ponting - 1922 (Although published in 1922, Herbert Ponting's visit to Namikawa's workshop occured in 1903)



JAPANESE ART AT THE FAIR

Georgia Cayuan - The Inter-Ocean

In Kyoto we visited the studio of Namikawa, the greatest artist in cloissonne ware in all Japan. The Japanese name for this ware is shippo yaki. Namikawa was formerly a nobleman in attendance at the Court of the Mikado. His skill and love of art had led him to apply himself solely to his chosen occupation. All work is designed by himself alone, and nothing that is not perfect is allowed to leave the work-room. Not more than fifty pieces, large and small, are ever completed in a single year by him and his assistants, and sometimes the number is much smaller. All of his work is practically beyond value, and so highly prized that it is doubtful if at present there is a single specimen of the artist's ware in America. There are two other artists of the same name, one located at Nagoya and the other at Tokio, both pupils of the master, and, according to a Japanese custom, bearing his name. But the master is in Kyoto, and his works are priceless. In his studio we were shown two immense vases, replicas of two made for and now in the emperor's palace. They are for the fair. Two workmen have been constantly engaged upon them for the past year and a half, and expect to be another year yet in completing them. They are covered with most exquisite detail work, sharply defined by hammered copper wire. When all is done, there is still the risk of fracture of the enamel in the firing, and it is certain that if they are not absolutely perfect, Namikawa will not allow them to be shipped here. Neither his wife nor himself could speak any English and we but little Japanese; but "Hakurankwai, Chicago," caused them both to beam with good nature; and after we had partaken of tea, kneeling in the Japanese manner while drinking it, we were shown many pieces of small ware, which were beautiful and artistic beyond description. The artist in Tokio has invented a new kind of cloissonne, whereby he almost entirely discards or completely hides the copper wires to hold the pattern. We saw one representing a cherrytree, the trunk of which was outlined by wires in bold relief, while the blossoms and leaves were soft and feathery against the background. The process is not known outside of this studio. He also reproduces old parchment pictures in a most delicate and exquisite manner, with tints of the ivory background preserved. We were shown a screen which was intended for the fair, but which the artist feared to send on account of the dryness of our climate, which would tend to check the material and destroy the article. The Japanese garden at the fair will be a revelation to the gardeners as to what may be done in prescribed quarters. While capable of beautifying nature on large scales, it is surpassing what the Japanese can do with the diminutive. Four feet square is a boundless vista to them and capable of great things in landscape-gardening. We have seen a parklet eight inches square in which there was growing dwarf shrubbery and flowers, and which was diversified with ponds, bridges, hills, paths, summer-houses, lanterns, and all necessary to the beautiful in the little. We wandered one day in a maple grove where no trees were more than an inch and a half high. We have seen dwarf pines six or eight inches high that were 125 years old, and others a foot high known to have existed for 500 years. Cherry and plum trees are cultivated in dwarf form for sake of the blossom only and not allowed to come to fruit. All Japanese are anxious to send to the fair something which will add to the honor of their country; but we found they were sorely afraid of enormous customs duties which might be charged by this country. We assured them to the contrary, as far as our limited knowledge extended, but were not sure how much ground they had for their fears. We were able to describe to them the lovely location which had been set aside for them– the island in the lake–and which coincides so thoroughly with their artistic natures. They have, notwithstanding their poverty, gone into this preparation for the fair with great zeal, and already their appropriations for expenses is one-third larger than contributed by England. All Japanese have a great desire to come to America, and we were besieged with applications to "please bring them over." They are an imitative race, and with the primitive means and clumsy tools at their command will successfully duplicate any work of other nations. Their methods seem to us as always beginning wrong end to, but the result is perfect. I could continue almost indefinitely describing what will be seen in the Japanese exhibit. A gallery of figures carved in wood, wonderfully life-like, and commemorating incidents and people, like Mme. Tussaud's in London; articles of bamboo and paper, of which materials it is said the Japanese can make anything under the sun; carved ivories, wonderful photographs, handsome lacquer-ware of new and surprising designs, elaborate embroideries, silver and bronze work–in fact, everything which the Japanese can make, and all of which are novel to this country, will be placed upon that little island, and show to the civilized world how far beyond them partially civilized Japan has gone in all the works of peace and industry.

Source: Current Opinion - Volume 11 - Edward Jewitt Wheeler - 1892



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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Thu Jun 30, 2011 6:01 pm

SOSUKE NAMIKAWA

Cloisonne wares - 8, Shin Yemoncho, Nihonbashi-Ku, Tokyo.

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S. Namikawa & Co. - Tokyo - 1899

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S. Namikawa & Co. - Tokyo - 1907


The highly artistic work of Namikawa Sosuke, of Tokyo, stands practically in a class apart from the cloisonne' enamel, and is known as Musenjippo, or cloisonless enamel. In this work, which came into prominence about 1880 and which has been brought to a high degree of perfection by the inventor, Namikawa Sosuke, and his son, beautiful and imperishable pictures in vitrified pastes are produced, 'remarkable as to technical skill, harmonious and at the same time rich in coloring, and possessing pictorial qualities which could not reasonably have been looked for in such material. There is nothing like them to be found in any other country, and they stand at an immeasurable distance above the ordinary cloisonne' creations. The design, which is usually placed in a monochromatic field of low tone, is framed, at the outset, with a ribbon of thin metal, after the manner of ordinary cloisonne'-ware; but as the work proceeds, the cloisons are hidden, – unless their presence would contribute to give necessary emphasis to the design, – and the final result is a picture in vitrified enamel. Vases, panels, bowls, flat pictures several foot square, depicting fowls, animals, land and seascapes, flowers, and a wide variety of subjects, are to be found in this uniquely beautiful work in an almost endless scale of shades and tones. Not a few of the motifs are the most famous paintings of the early masters, which are copied in enamel with a fidelity to the originals that is extraordinary. In reproducing some of the old pictures, the cloisons are hidden or omitted, or freely used, and the reproductions are so minute and so faithful that the particular shades of antiquity belonging to the silk or paper on which the picture was originally painted appear on the copies. The intricate and tedious process of painting the enamels on, then the firing and polishing, can be seen by travelers at Mr. Namikawa's studio (English spoken) at 8, Shiny emon-cho, Nihonbashi-ku, Tokyo. Here, too, are made many of the beautiful gold-enameled decorations used by the Imperial Japanese Government.

Source: Terry's Japanese Empire - Houghton Mifflin company - 1914


It is a mere accident that the representatives of the Kyoto and Tokyo schools are both called Namikawa. There is no relationship. Moreover, the Kyoto Namikawa is himself an expert of the highest skill; the Tokyo Namikawa is only an enterprising and resourceful employer of experts.

Source: Japan [and China]: Japan; its History, Arts and Literature - Frank Brinkley - 1904


THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS OF THE INDUSTRY

Of the wares made by the Shippo Kuwai-sha it is not necessary to speak seriously in connection with the original productions, as they are only offered and accepted as export goods. But the works of Namikawa Sosuke, of Tokio, mark a new departure, inasmuch as he has discarded or hidden the cloisons, and produced what is called "cloison-less" enamel, a curious name, it appears to me, to give to cloisonne enamel, and I think that it would have been more correct to style them "painted enamel," for they are in reality pictures, freely drawn, and painted upon metal with verifiable enamel colours afterwards burnt. It is said that cloisons are used but only to be removed at some stage of the process, or to be concealed, and in this respect alone do such enamels differ in principle from similar work which has been done in China, Japan, and Europe under the name of painted enamels. Sosuke's work is without doubt clever, but it is in no sense a copy of the earlier cloisonne enamels which have been imitated by other makers, such as the Shippo Kuwai-sha, and Namikawa Yasuyuki of Kioto, the latter of whom has since 1871 worked upon the old lines; of him, more later. Sosuke's works have probably suited the export demand, and appear to have sold freely in America, but in Japan their true character and value are recognised, for in an article in the Japan Mail of May 23rd, 1891, referring to the designs upon this ware, we read:

"We find innumerable specimens of almost shockingly inartistic character. ... It is incredible that workmen should be deliberately set down to reproduce in enamels, at great outlay of labour and money, designs palpably faulty in drawing and grossly defective in composition."

Professor Anderson also writes, in his noble work, The Pictorial Arts of Japan about this new departure:–"Despite the triumph achieved over certain technical difficulties, the alteration is not yet a subject for congratulation, since the expense of the work is far above its artistic merits, and the results at their best give only a laborious imitation of effects that could be obtained better, more legitimately, and more economically by the ordinary pictorial processes on paper, silk, or panel."

Clearly these remarks are correct, for the medium of enamel is unsuitable for the reproduction of pictorial subjects rendered by the painter's brush, and the earlier workers in shippo realized that the process was better adapted to the production of the delicate and intricate diaper and other patterns which are characteristic of the genuine works.


Source: Notes on Shippo: A Sequel to Japanese Enamels - James Lord Bowes - 1895


The difference between the Tokyo and Kyoto styles consists in this, that whereas Namikawa at Kyoto makes no attempt to hide the metallic contours of his lovely floral and arabesque decorations, his namesake at Tokyo prides himself on rendering the cloisons invisible, thus producing either pictures that might be mistaken for paintings on porcelain, or else monochromatic effects also similar to those observed in certain kinds of old Chinese porcelain. The Tokyo school performs the greater tour de force. But persons of true artistic temperament, who recognise that each material has its natural limitations, to move gracefully within which beseems genius better than overstepping them, will surely prefer the productions of the Kyoto makers, whose cloisonne is honestly cloisonne-, but cloisonne' with a wealth of ornament, an accuracy of design, a harmony of colour, simply miraculous when one considers the character of the material employed and the risks to which it is subjected in the process of manufacture. These risks greatly enhance the price of cloisonne' ware, especially of the larger monochromatic pieces. The purchaser of a vase or plaque must pay not only for it, but for all the others that have been inevitably spoilt in the endeavour to produce one flawless piece.

Source: Things Japanese: Being Notes on Various Subjects Connected with Japan for the Use of Travellers and Others - Basil Hall Chamberlain - 1905


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Re: Chinese Export Silver & Far East Trade Information

Postby dognose » Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:25 pm

O. KOMAI

Damascene Workers - 33, Furumonzen, Miyoshicho, Kyoto

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O. Komai - Kyoto - 1899

O. Komai were exhibitors at The Panama-Pacific Exposition held at San Francisco in 1915

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O. Komai - Kyoto - 1907

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